Bob Foos

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Bob Foos

The Webb City R-7 Schools Foundation, Inc. is proud to honor Mr. Bob Foos as its 2009 Distinguished Citizen. Foos grew up in the small western Kansas town of Healy and graduated in the top ten (but lower half) of his 1968 graduating class of 14. He met his future wife, Ann Suzuki, when they were in the dorms at Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia. His interest in photography led him to a journalism major at Wichita State University, where he and Ann both earned their bachelor's degrees. Bob's first job was at KUHI-TV in Joplin. And one of his first assignments was the open house at Webb City High School in 1972. He achieved his dream of working in a larger market by getting a job as photographer, with union pay, at the Herald-News in Joliet, Ill. The problem with leaving was that Ann would have to give up her first-grade teaching position at Eugene Field. It didn't take long for Bob to realize he was really meant to be a community journalist. What's more, Ann found it difficult applying for a job while wearing a maternity dress. They tried to gracefully leave Joliet, saying that Bob felt the need to improve his skills by attending the University of Missouri School of Journalism while he could still get in-state tuition.

While still at Columbia, he wrote to Bill Myers to inquire about purchasing the Webb City Sentinel and Wise Buyer. He and Marti Attoun, a former Carthage Press staffer, revived the Sentinel in August of 1979. The downtown fire of Dec. 22, 1982, was a milestone. It destroyed the Sentinel office at 13 S. Main St., along with a half block of two-story brick buildings. In the six months that followed, the contract purchase with Myers was complete, and Merle Lortz, who had worked at the Sentinel since he was in his teens, became Foos' partner. The Sentinel moved across the street to a historic building at 8 S. Main St. Kelli Pryor, a member of the Webb City R-7 School District Hall of Fame, was the first of several writers to get their start as Sentinel assistant editors. Today, Foos and Lortz are proud that the Sentinel remains one of the few independently owned media in the area.

Coverage of the city, schools and Webb City Cardinals has been the Sentinel's mainstay. However, more positive feedback has been received regarding the cartoons of Nic Frising and historical columns by Jeanne Newby than anything else. The Sentinel also benefits from its association with the Webb City Genealogical Society and Webb City Farmers Market. Even when going on 30 years at the Sentinel, Bob complained that he would never be a real “Webb Citian” because he hadn't been born in Jane Chinn Hospital and he hadn't graduated from Webb City High School. Thanks to Sentinel bookkeeper Vicki Groff, though, he now has framed documents to prove the contrary.

When Bob returned to Webb City, Ann got her job back at Eugene Field and went on to retire in 2009 after teaching more than 30 years in Webb City. Over the years Ann enriched the lives of the students and staff with whom she worked in the Webb City School District. Bob and Ann have a daughter, Sonya Neece and her husband, Gary, Tulsa; a son, Jake Foos, Overland Park, Kan.; and two granddaughters, Julia Neece, 13, and Ally Neece, 10.